Monday Night Raw 4/8/13 – Post-WM show steals PPV’s thunder with shocks aplenty

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Another year, another subpar Wrestlemania. The production, talent and sheer manpower that goes into producing a show of this magnitude is greatly admired and appreciated by all watching, and is rarely to fault for the eventual disappointment of the finished product. The competitors can’t take the entirety of the blame for a merely passable match, no matter their efforts. Rather, it is the ambition inherent to a show like Wrestlemania that serves as its downfall. Even with a 4-hour runtime, there is simply too much ground to cover. Too many entrances, too many video packages, too many characters. Some get undeserved screen-time (Diddy), while others are booted off the card entirely (Rhodes Scholars). For the biggest PPV event of the year, time really does fly – even when no one is having fun.

So ironically, my main complaint about Raw recently has been its bloated 3-hour length; after the anxious rush of Wrestlemania, this Monday’s show actually felt fresh. 7 weeks of build-up had culminated the night previous, allowing for new feuds and rematches to now unwind and settle into place. In one exception, The Miz defended his newly won Intercontinental Championship match against Wade Barrett in a far greater match than was featured on the WM pre-show. Given room to breathe, and no longer in the shadow of Brock, Trips and Rock – the latter of whom has allegedly ‘walked out’ of the company in the guise of an injury – the younger talent came to the fore on this week’s show and proved themselves far greater than second fiddle to veteran part-timers.

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Nowhere was this more evident than in Dolph Ziggler’s Money in the Bank cash-in against an injured Alberto Del Rio. One imagines this may have been intended for Wrestlemania itself, given that even Jack Swagger’s entrance was cut from that particular main event due to time constraints. Here it was given its due and made all the more exhilarating through the utter refusal of Del Rio to lie down and die. The brief struggle between the two paid off when Ziggler scored the 1-2-3 for the Championship, causing the Jersey crowd to erupt into a deafening roar.

And this wasn’t an isolated spark of excitement. All night long the people screamed bizarre chants from ‘RVD’ to ‘HBK’ to ‘MICHAEL COLE’. They inexplicably sang and danced in their thousands to Fandango’s music, all the way from the arena to the parking lot to the subway (see YouTube).

Having been stood up by The Rock, Cena approached the ring alone to face the wrath of this ravenous crowd. He claimed to be celebrating his Championship victory, though he appeared to simply stand immobile, unimpressive, rambling like a Jack Swagger promo from 2010. The one positive response from the crowd resulted from Cena’s suggestion of “How about a little heel turn?” A head-turning break from kayfabe if ever there was one.

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With the absence of every other big name, including Punk, the feisty crowd were rightly rewarded with an appearance by the Undertaker – probably the last person they were expecting to see. Set upon by The Shield, the Dead Man was then aided by Daniel Bryan and brother Kane – again, to a soaring enthusiasm from the crowd. Lord knows how fierce the screams would have been had the teams collided; for now, each side settled for cold stares and retreats. The confrontation will have to wait. Meanwhile, Undertaker should ideally recall the gazillion times Kane has turned against him and every single successive tag partner; should maybe have a word in Daniel Bryan’s ear.

Nothing could have possibly topped Brock Lesnar’s sudden return and beatdown of Cena on last year’s post-WM Raw, but Ryback was probably the next best idea. Something tells me this shocker of a heel turn could have been the product of frantic rewrites resulting from Rock’s impromptu exit. We’ll never know, but it seems as if Cena/Ryback is now the main program going forward, in face/heel roles respectively despite crowd reaction indicating the contrary. What better way to have Ryback win over the people than to destroy Cena, and end those ‘Goldberg’ chants once and for all? Good luck with that, Skip.

Ed Doyle

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